Friday, December 10, 2010

This Week: Poetic Justice

Everybody wants a taste of the ‘hood
Everybody sings a long with the songs about doing no good
But if you laid there, if you stayed there and couldn’t escape
How many hooks would you repeat about the dirty money you make?
When I was younger the cool thing was to wear baggy pants
Have a limp in your step til you hop up in mom’s minivan
Wearing And1’s and Polo, maybe a Nike wristband
Cuz you’re a baller, shot caller, right? That’s how the words go?
What if you knew they’re only expectation was you go to jail or go pro?

What if you did move on and upward, toward a college degree?
And you excel and do well despite their suspect on your pedigree
You’re all black in all-white schools
In the back but you’re no fool
But the last time you sat front row
The professor slowed down when he spoke to you
And every time you speak up they’re surprised at your eloquence
And should you let loose in front of friends
You hear gasps and “Oh my gosh, say that again!”
Like a puppet. A showman. Just a little more well-spoken than those crazy ones in the YouTube video they’re forwardin’

Is it fair for you to anger or be frustrated at this scene?
After all you were in the library with Soulja Boy on your laptop screen
And then your ringtone went off and Kanye crooned “ghetto university”
And that’s where you grew up, in the School of Hard Knocks
Rocks in palms on your block and you did your best to get out without a jump or gunshot
But, who said they needed saving? Who said they needed help?
Plenty are satisfied and don’t fold despite the hand that they’ve been dealt
When “experts” tell them it’s too much for them to bear
That someone must step in and show “the underprivileged” we care
We have what they don’t. We can succeed where they won’t.
They is not black, they is anyone who has ever been held back
And told that they were equal
They is anyone who was put up in a coop, or sat out on a stoop
‘Cause they were not welcome in buildings, though they paid taxes, too.
They is not Muslim, they is anyone who has ever been held back
When they just tried to move forward. But somehow every time they’re chosen from a random assortment
And then holed up in a room. Hold up. You’ll be released soon.
They is not Jew, they is anyone who was imprisoned in a place they were told would have enough room
But because of their looks, because they looked like they could be crooks
Even though they did no crime except to protest what sat on the books
Persecuted for money, of which they had none, and because they were broke the only choice for their first son
Was be cut up and dragged out, before he could witness the warm sun
There’s not enough room on this mattress for plus one
Not enough air in the casket you pay rent for every month
But somehow every Thanksgiving you fit the whole family in
Grateful at least for a meal and a place to block out the wind

So take back your advice and your Superman complex
That attitude is obtuse your spirit is convex
You’re thinking because you were schooled, because you read about it in school
That you know the rules and the needs and the way to save me from this cruel world
You school boy and school girl
you have attended university but still have no concept of adversity
No respect for diversity.  And you studied facts but you haven’t learned me
You can’t come in with your theories and stethoscope trying to cure
things of which you’re unsure

So be humble and open your eyes to the reason that I’m hurt, but don’t cry
I don’t have luxury to sit by. There are mouths to feed, clothes to dry
And I take the 6 bus to the Red line then walk a few blocks to the bread line
And get back in an hour so that I can pick my daughter up on time

I don’t lay hands except for prayer, so don’t assume I’ll fight back when you arrive
Come with an open mind. Although you’re degree says you’re qualified
You never lived and haven’t seen,
so step back before you step in to save me from misery
This isn’t a study…but you can learn a lot in this ghetto university.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Great American SmokeOut

During the month of November, which is always reserved to promote lung cancer awareness, BPHSN participated in the Great American SmokeOut. Every year, the American Cancer Society designates a day to encourage people to start their smoking quit plan, or to plan ahead and make the Great American Smokeout day their quit date. Of course, BPHSN played an active role in the event that the Student Health Service and Office of External Relations hosted for a GW campus-wide SmokeOut.

Chidimma Acholonu, a BPHSN E-board member and Community-Oriented Primary Care MPH student, hosted a smoking trivia game table on University Yard during the event. Despite the chilly temperature, Chidimma represented BPHSN for 3 hours, asking questions of passers-by and handing out prizes for participants. 

Other tables at the event included a Wall of Reasons, where people wrote down why they smoke or don’t smoke and why they’d like to quit on faux bricks and help build a "support wall"; and various resource tables with snacks, prescription information, and other activities that quitting smokers can use to suppress their desires to smoke until the craving passes and addiction is broken. The entire University Yard was covered in bubbles, as people were encouraged to “blow bubbles, not smoke”, and the pathways were lined with interesting facts about the effects of smoking. 

Kudos to Ms. Acholonu for representing BPHSN at the SmokeOut! For those of you who would like more info about quitting smoking, visit the American Cancer Society’s website for some starting tips on how to quit; or if you’re a GW student, schedule an appointment with Student Health Service for personal counseling and assistance.

Do well on your finals everyone, and see you at the holiday party on Friday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Week: Food For Thought

Ladies and gents, it is my pleasure to introduce this week's guest blogger, class of 2010 MPH Candidate, Acasia Olson. As a member of the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association's GetFED: Food Equality in D.C. subcommittee, Acasia has a unique and informed insight into a major health problem occurring right in GW's backyard.

A Google search of the 2010 national health awareness issues will direct you to a site listing a day, week, or month dedicated to over 100 public health issues. From Celiac Disease to nutrition awareness or minority health, individuals and groups alike have organized and rallied to bring attention to preventable and often overlooked health concerns. While some of us may have known that November was American Diabetes Month, how many of you can say you were excited in the days leading up to National Food Desert Awareness Month? No, seriously…For those of you who almost dropped that leftover turkey leg in surprise, I’m here to tell you that September is recognized as Food Desert Awareness Month. You may be wondering why I would be talking about an observance that took place three months ago. Food deserts are a social determinant that cause a huge disparity within the public's health.

The US Department of Agriculture defines food deserts (not to be confused with the decadent sumptuousness of pumpkin pie and peach cobbler), as geographic areas where access to nutritious, affordable, healthy foods is extremely limited, or absent. Instead of shopping at full scale grocery stores or in farmers’ markets, people trapped in food deserts must rely on an overwhelming supply of fast food, carry-out and cornerstore establishments for their daily source of pseudo-nutrients. Further, food deserts are most often found in communities with large minority populations and low-socioeconomic status. 

So what does this have to do with you, an aspiring or current public health professional in the nation’s capital? I’m glad you asked. I won’t belabor you with statistics which state that D.C. wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 have the highest proportion of overweight/obesity and diabetes. And, I don’t want to assume you’re oblivious of CDC data from 2010, which reports African-Americans as having a 51% higher prevalence of obesity than Whites, and that related illnesses have become increasingly endemic in low-income communities. You’re probably sharp enough to notice that these days, the “chocolate city” isn’t all that sweet. But it can be, and will be. 

The D.C. Council has taken legal action to eliminate the presence of food deserts, through the introduction of the Food, Environment and Economic Development of DC (FEED DC) Act of 2010. Non-profit organizations, such as D.C. Hunger Solutions and Healthy Solutions, D.C. are working with food businesses and residents to increase access to healthy affordable food. The Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association (MWPHA) has also taken action, through the tireless efforts of their GetFED: Food Equality in DC subcommittee, which currently consists of MPH students and interested community members. While members of these groups have made commendable strides, the work has only just begun. Though there may be a shortage of equal access to healthy food within the District, there isn’t a shortage of passionate members within the community of public health…can we count on you?

For more information on ways to eliminate food deserts, visit us at: GetFED, or send us an email at:
“Ultimately, happiness rests on how you establish a solid sense of self or being. Happiness does not lie in outward appearances nor in vanity. It is a matter of what you feel inside; it is a deep resonance in your life. To be filled each day with a rewarding sense of exhilaration and purpose, a sense of tasks accomplished and deep fulfillment- people who feel this way are happy. Those who have this sense of satisfaction even if they are extremely busy are much happier than those who have time on their hands but feel empty inside.” – Daisku Ikeda